The Very Best of Music

Anna Nicole, Fiona Apple, Ani DiFranco, Beach and more

Anna Nicole Smith led a life of magnificent highs and tragic lows. She worked as a waitress and exotic dancer before shooting into the fame stratosphere as a Guess and Playboy model. She married an 80-something billionaire. Tragically, she lost her son to an accidental overdose before succumbing to the same fate herself at age 39, only a few months after giving birth to a baby girl. It’s a tale of operatic proportions, and that’s exactly what it has been turned into. Anna Nicole stars Sarah Joy Miller in the lead role. The score, created by Mark-Anthony Turnage, takes its cue from various musical genres including jazz and blues. It will be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Sep 17-28 as part of the Next Wave festival.

Some people hear the name “Fiona Apple” and immediately think “90s wild child.” But the Fiona Apple of today is a long way from the Fiona Apple of yesteryear. She’s in her 30s now, and is recognized as a songwriter and composer of music that expands outside the traditional confines of pop. She recently released her latest, The Idler Wheel…, after a way-too-long seven-year hiatus and will no doubt perform several selections from it when she hits the Beacon on Oct 22.

Ani DiFranco specializes in doing things that would probably terrify most people. She moved out of her mother’s apartment at 15. She created her own record company, Righteous Records, at 18, and refused to sign with major record labels when they started courting her. She is totally out and proud about her bisexuality, and has written several songs about her relationships with men and women. Her unique songs cross several musical genres, and her lyrics are highly personal. All in all, DiFranco offers a refreshingly authentic listening experience, and on Nov 15 she’ll do it again, as she performs at the Music Hall of Williamsburg with South African musician Gregory Alan Isakov and spoken word performer Buddy Wakefield. She’ll be promoting her latest album Which Side Are You On?

Bitch returns to the stage with a new performing partner, Billie Jo Cavallaro, aka Alligator. Their project is called Beach, and it utilizes instruments not normally found in pop, such as the electric violin, ukulele and keytar. Fans are supporting them in a big way, funding their soon-to-be-released first album via an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign. Find out what makes these two such crowd pleasers when they come to Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory on Oct 27.

People might have been more than a little skeptical when they heard that Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen was starting a hard rock band, but over the past four years The Pretty Reckless has proven to be the real deal, opening for Guns N’ Roses and Marilyn Manson. Momsen’s musical influences range from The Beatles to Nirvana, and she’s not afraid to push some style buttons either, with a look that’s part Alice Cooper and part Joan Jett—in other words, a long way from Jenny Humphrey’s preppy wardrobe. Momsen and co. will be performing at Long Island’s The Paramount on Sep 20 in support of the band’s latest album, Going to Hell. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, be sure to snag yourself a ticket.

On Sep 20, Bette Midler (Donna Maxon) and Barry Manilow (drag king Fonda Feingold) will be returning to the place where it all began, 1970s gay bathhouse The Continental Baths. Join them for an evening of jokes, songs, and schtick in Bette & Barry: Back to the Bathhouse at The Laurie Beechman Theatre.

There have been rumors that legendary rock group Blondie will be breaking up after their current No Principals tour. And while we pray this isn’t so, if it is, then that’s one more good reason to see them when they come to Roseland, with fellow punk band X, on Oct 4. Their latest album Ghosts of Download finds them collaborating with fabulous queer icon Beth Ditto on the single “A Rose by Any Name.” If she shows up for a guest spot on the 4th, well, that’ll just make a good thing even better.

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